Associations between Food Pantry Size and Distribution Method and Healthfulness of Foods Received by Clients in Baltimore City Food Pantries

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jun 29;18(13):6979. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18136979.


This study aimed to evaluate the association of the overall nutritional quality and the weight share of specific types of foods received by food pantry clients with food pantry size and distribution method. Data on healthy food weights using the gross weight share (GWS) of select foods and the validated Food Assortment Score Tool (FAST) were collected from 75 food pantry clients in Baltimore, Maryland. The average FAST score across the study population was 63.0 (SD: 10.4). Overall, no statistically significant differences in average FAST scores by pantry size and distribution method were found. However, among client-choice pantries, clients of small pantries had higher scores (p < 0.05) while among medium pantries, clients of traditional pantries had higher scores (p < 0.01). Subgroup analysis of GWS was stratified by pantry size and distribution methods. Findings suggested multi-level, multi-component interventions combining environmental strategies are needed to enhance the healthfulness of foods received by clients. Our analysis provided data to consider further refinements of pantry interventions and planning of more rigorous research on factors influencing the effectiveness of pantry interventions.

Keywords: Baltimore; client choice; food insecurity; food pantry; nutritional quality; systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Baltimore
  • Food
  • Food Assistance*
  • Food Supply
  • Humans
  • Nutritive Value